A macro lens isn’t just for nature photographers capturing the intricate beauty of a flower or the amazing detail of an insect. Furthermore, it isn’t just for product photographers photographing the detail of a delicious meal or details of a ring.
A macro lens is an incredible tool for any beauty photographer to have in their kit. As a portrait, fashion and beauty photographer, for any beauty shoot I am sure to have these lens readily available. A macro lens opens up entire new realms of possibility. I can capture and magnify incredible details that otherwise would have been unappreciated and create fascinating compositions utilizing my macro lens!
Generally, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens is my go-to beauty lens. I would never approach a beauty shoot without having the lens in my kit. Its flattering compression and flexible focal lengths make it an indispensable tool.
A macro lens allows me to focus closer, achieve tighter compositions, and magnify details of the scene that would be impossible to achieve with a standard lens. My choice of macro lens is the Sigma 150mm macro. The Sigma 150mm macro lens allows me to achieve 1:1 magnification, allowing me to zoom into images at life-size! In other words, the subject is life-size on the image sensor, allowing you to create images with stunning detail and magnification that lead to mind-blowing prints!
When selecting a macro lens for beauty photography, I personally recommend selecting a Tele-macro lens (longer focal length) like the Sigma 150mm 2.8 for three main reasons:
1. Focusing distance for your subject:
When working with human subjects, to shoot macro shots you often don’t want to invade their personal space. It is a courtesy to give them a bit of working distance, instead of focusing millimeters from their eye when getting a detailed makeup shot. A tele-macro lens typically gives you between one and two feet of working distance. The distance will vary, but it is significantly more distance than achieved with its standard equivalent (like a 70mm macro).
In this particular image, by using a long focal length of lens, I am able to give the subject a bit of space while still getting an extremely tight composition. With a shorter focal length lens my lens would nearly have to be touching her nose/skin in order to achieve this tight of a crop.
2. Focusing distance for your lighting:
Focusing distance is not only important for your subject, but also for your lighting! If you are shooting beauty photography in the studio and must be only inches from your subject’s face to achieve the shot, then often you are obscuring the light! Frequently your lens or your head will block the light on the subject’s face and ruin the shot if you are shooting with a standard macro lens with a shorter focal length.
When I am shooting beauty images, I never know just quite how tight I will want to crop. Sometimes I go in for the detail of eye makeup, other times for half of the face, and sometimes for a nice close crop on the entire face. For this reason, compression is key. If I am shooting the Sigma 70mm macro lens, for example, and want a tight headshot of the entire face, there is a bit of distortion. I much prefer the compression achieved by utilizing a longer lens, like the 150mm, for flattering the features. A 70mm macro exaggerates the features and depth of the scene more, but often this is not a desired result.
As you can tell in these images, the final results are drastically different than what you would achieve shooting your Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 at 150mm. The perspective, the magnification and the overall approach to the image is completely different and often extremely exciting! Instead of focusing on the expression of your subject, you now study details, textures, light, color and all the tiny elements that are often overlooked in an image.